For several years, I worked as a customer service manager. I didn’t like bossing people around, so I often gave them options – work on task A, B, or C. I thought it was working, but after a couple of weeks, one of the employees asked if it would kill me to say ‘please.’
Boy did that sting, but it also helped me see how differently people can perceive the same situation. I thought I was being nice by providing options, but no amount of options were a good substitute for ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Since then, I’ve made it my mission to make manners an everyday expectation at the office.
Regardless of how well you think you’re treating people, don’t neglect the basics of good manners. Those include:
- Please and Thank You. (See above.)
- Excuse Me. If you need to interrupt, do it politely.
- Sincerely. I’ve heard some people say this isn’t appropriate for business emails, but I disagree. It means free of dissimulation (honest); marked by genuineness (true). I don’t know about you, but I’d love for people to associate me with those descriptions. If you don’t like this word, select an appropriate sign off for your emails and letters.
- Thank You Cards. Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you card. Send one after meetings, interviews, presentations – any time you’d say thank you is a good opportunity to send a thank you card.
- Dress Appropriately. Whether it’s an interview, dinner meeting, or golf outing, be respectful and dress for the occasion. In addition to looking nice, it will show that you cared enough to find out what’s appropriate for the situation.
- Be on Time. Never make anyone wait for you. Ever. Do whatever it takes to be on time (early if you can).
- Listen. Nothing shows you care quite like taking the time to listen to your clients and employees. Don’t have answers and responses prepared beforehand. Listen to the conversation and respond appropriately.
By knowing and practicing good manners, you’ll set yourself apart as someone people will want to do business with.